A large tree in Goleta was recently designated as the National Champion California Sycamore Tree.
It is located close to the San Jose Creek in the area where the city plans to construct a park in Old Town Goleta near the corner of Kellogg and Hollister avenues. The tree is referred to as the “Sister Witness Tree” because of its proximity to the “Witness Tree” located across Hollister Avenue.
The Sister Witness Tree measures 52.2 feet around, has a 95.5-foot canopy and a height of 94 feet.
According to the American Forests’ point formula of one point for every inch of width (626), one point for one-fourth of the crown spread in feet (23), and one point for every foot in height (94), the total points for this tree equates to 743, which makes it the largest California sycamore in the State of California and the nation.
This is the second National Champion verified in the Goleta Old Town area. The other champion tree is the Australian willow in the courtyard of the Community Center that received the National Champion designation earlier this year.
“Having not one, but two National Champions in our city is quite an honor,” Mayor Ed Easton said. “It’s a testament to the importance of trees in our area and the community’s desire to preserve these treasures. Goleta is proud to be a Tree City.”
Goleta Valley Beautiful nominated the Sister Witness Tree for this designation after rescuing the tree from overgrowth. GVB is a nonprofit organization that works in Goleta to nsure the beauty of the Goleta Valley.
“With the help of the California Conservation Corps, we removed two two-story ball palms growing out of the trunk of the Sister Witness Tree,” Goleta Valley Beautiful Executive Director Ken Knight said. “Once the overgrowth was removed, we partnered with the youth group Palabra to measure the tree, and verified the results with local tree experts Bill Spiewak and Randy Baldwin. We then sent the measurements in to have the tree certified as a National Champion.”
The National Register of Big Trees is a list of the largest recorded living specimens of each tree variety found in the continental United States. A tree on this list, maintained by the nonprofit American Forests organization, is called a National Champion Tree. To be eligible for this designation, the species must be recognized as native or naturalized in the continental United States.
The tree is not currently available for public viewing because the site is fenced off for future park improvements and is being used to house the San Jose Creek Project construction office.
— Valerie Kushnerov is a public information officer for the City of Goleta.